All photos by Amy Golden.
An anti-abortion group gathered for a two-day demonstration with visual displays on the University of Northern Colorado’s campus this week.
The demonstration took place on the west lawn of McKee Hall Monday and Tuesday. The university put up signs on the sidewalks around the exhibit that read “Warning! Graphic Content Ahead” and listed resources for students impacted by the demonstration.
UNC Students for Life, the anti-abortion group on campus, invited Justice For All to the university. Justice For All is a national organization that attempts to create conversations about abortion and train anti-abortion advocates in dialogues about these topics. This includes visiting campuses around the country with exhibits like the one on UNC’s campus.
Grace Fontenot, a representative from Justice For All, said they intended to start a dialogue on campus about unplanned pregnancy and abortion, specifically around the topic of when a fetus is considered a human. The Greeley Pregnancy Resource Center joined the demonstration to offer free, Christian-based resources for unplanned pregnancies.
While Justice For All is anti-abortion, Fontenot said the dialogue was the most important part of the group’s visit.
“We want to really respect people, and the students have been really appreciative of that,” Fontenot said. “I’ve spoken to a lot of pro-choice students who have told me that they had a really good experience here.”
She said that while the group had not experienced much push-back from students for their presence on campus, she saw the university warnings about the demonstration as somewhat excessive.
“From the university itself, there’s been a lot of signs and a lot of emails warning students about the signs, about them being graphic,” Fontenot said. “We don’t have graphic content out here.”
The school se[nt multiple emails informing students of the group’s presence and the university’s duty to host any peaceful group on campus that complies with the law and university policy.
“As a public institution, UNC recognizes the First Amendment right granted to individuals to exercise their constitutional right to participate in freedom of expression activities on campus,” the university said in an email.
UNC freshman Daisy Vega observed the demonstration from the McKee breezeway and said she felt it was good the university was hosting a space for people to voice their opinions.
“I think it’s okay,” Vega said. “There are always going to be people who are pro-life and there are always going to be people who are pro-choice. I think it’s fine to still have that on campus.”
During the same time as the demonstration, the Center for Women’s and Gender Equity had a table set up in front of Michener Library, within sight of the McKee lawn. Representatives from the CWGE said the table was set up not to make a political statement, but to continue the discussion about feminism, gender equity and choice.
UNC offers resources for anyone that might have been impacted by the presence of the group on campus, including free and confidential counseling through the Counseling Center and the Assault Survivors Advocacy Program, along with additional resources from[ the CWGE and Student Outreach and Support.